On this page, you will find the story of Fuzzy - one of our most involved rescues. While Fuzzy was not our first rescue, he was really the driving force behind what started NWI Chinchilla Rescue.
Fuzzy really touched our lives in many ways. He gave us a crash course into the world of chinchilla medical care, including our first experiences at hand-feeding and dealing with impaction and possible stasis. Our rescue bank account is named after him - we affectionately call it "the Fuzzy Fund."
Here is his story....
Fuzzy came to us in spring of 2005.
I distinctly remember it being the last few weeks of my sophomore year at college when I got a call about someone wanting to surrender a chinchilla. While I offered to drive to come get Fuzzy, the owner wanted to see our setup. Arrangements were made for her to drop off the chinchilla at our house once I was home in the spring (approx. May 2005). At that point, we only had around five chinchillas of our own.
On the first day, Fuzzy in his cage:
rom the start, it was clear that Fuzzy was not eating. Fuzzy had been fed Charlie Chinchilla food (we consider this one of the worst possible chinchilla foods to feed), which he would not even touch. Fuzzy was taken to the vet, and it was determined that Fuzzy was impacted. While not obvious from the pictures above, Fuzzy had ingested large amounts of plastic due to chewing on the plastic shelves, ramps, and igloo in his cage.
These plastic fragments had gotten stuck in his digestive tract, causing a blockage to form.
Fuzzy was started on a regimen of motility drugs, as well as exercise and tummy massages. None of this seemed to work - for what seemed like eternity, there were no poos and Fuzzy seemed to be losing the battle. Finally, we saw poos (and you would not believe how happy you are to see poos when you have an impacted chin!). Eventually, Fuzzy did pass very small pieces of plastic, as well as the food that had become lodged behind.
Now that we were over the immediate issue of his non-pooping caused by his impaction, we noticed another problem - Fuzzy had a limp. So, back to the vet we went. An x-ray of Fuzzy's rear legs prompted our vet to ask us how long we'd had him, and how old we thought he was. We explained that we took him in as a rescue (this was about 3-4 months after we got him), and were told that he was, at the most, 2 years old. Our vet informed us that it was not possible that he was only two years old, as he had an injury that would have taken horribly long to heal. Somehow at his previous home, Fuzzy had broken his pelvis. Our vet stated that this sort of injury should have been obvious to his owners when it happened, but that nothing was done for him - and so his pelvis had healed (the bones had fused/grown back together), incorrectly, causing the limp. There was nothing that could be done for the limp, and it was not pronounced. However, we had wanted to see if it was a pressing issue (like a current broken leg) that could be fixed. As for his age, our vet said that it was more likely, based on the state of the injury, that Fuzzy was 5+ years old.
However, that was not the end of his health problems. During all of the above, we had been feeding Fuzzy critical care around the clock, as he would not eat or drink on his own. Once the impaction passed, we thought we were in the clear - but he still would not eat, at least not regularly. With Fuzzy's prior problems, he was weighed often to check his progress. It seemed that he would start eating on his own somewhat, and then would stop again. Then would start again, then stop again. And so the cycle continued. We jokingly started saying that if we looked at him wrong, he would stop eating - and it really seemed like that was the case. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason why he would randomly start and stop eating.
This went on for almost three years. During those years, we went through so much critical care it was ridiculous... but Fuzzy would eat it, but not his own food. He had been x-rayed and did not have teeth problems or maloclussion, so our vet was stumped as to what was causing Fuzzy to not eat on his own - it was not a health problem, per se. Eventually, someone suggested that we try other brands of food. We feed our herd Mazuri, but thought we would attempt to feed Fuzzy Oxbow chinchilla pellets. He didn't pick it up right away, but after some time, Fuzzy started (and continued) eating Oxbow completely on his own.
Somewhere amid all of this, it was noticed that Fuzzy had a calcium deficiency and that his teeth were white (chinchilla teeth should be orangish-yellow in chinchillas over 8 months of age). From then on, Fuzzy was supplied with cuttlebone to bring up his calcium levels.
As for the food problem, we discovered the "correct food" on my first week in Indianapolis (mid/late August 2007), where I moved to attend law school. Fuzzy had come with me -- we had actually brought him when we originally came to see the apartment, and explained to the staff how we rescued and he had to be hand-fed because he wouldn't eat (in order to get the "ok" to have a chinchilla in the apartment). The food breakthrough came as a complete surprise, and really was a breakthrough.
From that point on, we kept him on Oxbow, which he ate with no problem. While we were finally over the health hurdles, we started working on socializing Fuzzy. Part of our keeping rescues is making them as comfortable as possible. Because Fuzzy had his pelvis injury, he was unable to jump as high as other chinchillas - this made his cage a bit difficult, as he really did need his ramp, or shelves considerably closer together.
Over the first weekend I spent in Indianapolis at law school, we remedied this problem. I drew up blueprints for a custom melamine cage - one which would have shelves considerably closer together for Fuzzy's ease of getting around. With the help of a friend I had just met (and his drill), we build this cage over the course of a weekend. The small ledges you see on the right were intended to be "steps" which Fuzzy could use to get to the higher ledges and hammock.
Over time, Fuzzy became more friendly, more used to people, and most importantly (because of his eating a good food) filled out so that he was not all skin and bones. Fuzzy was never a large chinchilla - he probably never topped 600 grams - but for the first time in his life, he was healthy, eating well on his own, and doing well in general.
He was our little fuzz butt.
But the time had come for Fuzzy to move on. He had worked out all his issues here, traveling with me from college to law school and everywhere in between. He spent four years here with us. Many other rescues had come and gone while he was here, and it was finally his turn to "go home."
We went through several adoptees, I believe partially because we listed his adoption fee at $50. He really was special-needs, and just the "right home" was important for us to find. However, everyone seemed to want a $50 chinchilla, seemingly dismissing the fact that he had medical issues in the past---and more importantly, that if he was to have any in the future, it would be a large expense. Therefore, the right home that understood his potentially-expensive future needs was a must.
After all, we spent over $1,000 on Fuzzy's medical expenses.
We did eventually find an awesome home for Fuzzy, with Bradley and Breanna, about an hour outside of Indy. I can look back now and say that I'm amazed I found as good of a home as I did - at the point I was rehoming Fuzzy, we did not have our adoption form the way we do now. Rather, we simply would get a "feel" of the people from emailing and calling back and forth. Fuzzy's new home was definitely a great one though - they asked about cages and we recommended Quality Cage. Fuzzy's new home purchased a quality cage chinchilla condo and accessories for Fuzzy. In addition, they proved to be great chin-parents by calling us when there were any questions or concerns. We have no doubt that he is spoiled and cared for well.
As far as we know, Fuzzy is still living with them and doing well.
Pictures below are of Fuzzy in his new Quality Cage with a wheel, hidey house, and other accessories. As you may notice, his green "Fuzz Butt" bowl did go with him to his new home. :)